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China has sought to demonstrate its environmental credentials and play down US fears over its economic muscle by pointing out that without it, the traditional American Christmas just wouldn’t happen.

Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing, listing the benefits of US-China trade in Beijing today, said that an ever-growing forest of Chinese-made plastic Christmas trees not only brought joy to the world, but were preventing deforestation in the US itself, Reuters reports.

China isn't the first country to spring to mind when considering green policies. Apart from the somewhat smoggy impact of its rapid industrialisation, its factories have recently developed a nasty habit of releasing toxic waste into major rivers.

Still, it clearly excels in the recycling of one commodity – justifications for its trade surplus with the US.

Today’s comments sounded eerily like a similar statement by Foreign Ministry spokesman, Qin Gang, back in Februay. According to Xhinua, Qin said "According to the documents I've read, the vast majority of Christmas gifts and trees are made by China.”

The sub-text is clear. “Back off, or your (made in Shanghai) stockings will be empty next year.”®

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